African solar training provider GREEN Solar Academy is going one step further in its commitment to preparing installers for a successful career in solar energy by launching an internship programme.
GREEN Solar Academy recognises that training is only the first step towards finding a job in the solar industry.
Together with Peak Power Solutions, a well-established solar company based in Pretoria, Gauteng, they will now offer practical experience alongside training on the job. Peak Power Solutions is headed by Willem van Schalkwyk, a GREEN alumni who started his career in the solar industry by participating in a GREEN training course in 2014, and who knows about the struggles new solar installers face. This collaboration is a pilot programme that will be rolled out with companies of other GREEN Alumni in the future.
GREEN’s commitment to helping participants get started in a career in solar energy extends beyond the short, professional courses they provide and into extra services such as networking meetings and forums where new installers can learn from industry stalwarts and get direct access to wholesalers.
“We want to ensure that all doors to a successful future in solar are opened for our students, and that new and experienced alumni can make use of all the valuable resources that we have access to,” explains GREEN Solar Academy director, Antje Klauss-Vorreiter.
The feedback GREEN receives from the +3600 people they have trained is that finding qualified staff is a bottleneck for the growth of the solar sector. Due to this fact, the demand for solar currently exceeds the supply available. And on the flip side, newcomers struggle to get up to speed to fill the available positions, making the jump from training into employment difficult. An intermediate step is needed where the new graduates have a safe space to put into practice what they learned in their training.
To facilitate this, GREEN is leveraging the relationships nurtured over 10 years of training and is turning to alumni companies like Peak Power Solutions, who started small and have developed into established SMEs, to transfer the responsibility of training new staff over to them.
Willem van Schalkwyk explains why he opened his doors to the first interns: “Companies have to take responsibility in training as well; the industry is at a point where the demand for skilled personnel is so big that long-term staff planning and commitment to grow own staff becomes a requirement.”
Interns will be exposed to all facets of solar installation, from monitoring inventory for upcoming projects to the physical mounting of racking, modules and electrical equipment of both residential and commercial systems. In addition to securing invaluable on-the-job experience, incumbents will attend ongoing training sessions on new products, methodology and safety. At every stage, the installer company pledges to offer guidance and support with the intern’s personal development as a qualified PV installer.
The partnership benefits both parties, in that the intern may well go on to secure permanent employment with the internship company, and the industry gains another solar professional with solid experience.
The initiative will become a permanent value-added service offered by GREEN to its alumni as part of their solar training, connecting suitable staff with eager solar companies. At least one alumni will be welcomed onboard as an intern with a partner company every three months, and this number is set to increase as more alumni companies sign up to the initiative and make capacity for interns.
The internship programme is open to all GREEN alumni, an alumni being a graduate of one of our training courses, and will partner recent graduates of our trainings with the established companies of other GREEN alumni.
“We live in a country with a depressingly high unemployment rate. Here are all these entrepreneurs, who have invested in themselves with professional solar training, and all they require is some hands-on experience and guidance. And our internship programme will provide that,” says Antje Klauss-Vorreiter.
The first round of applicants has already been interviewed and a candidate has been selected. GREEN Solar Academy alumni – both those seeking experience and those able to accommodate new talent – are invited to visit the GREEN website for more details on the scope of the first opening and the application process HERE
Author: Bryan Groenendaal